Laughter Isn't Always the Best Medicene

     Homer described laughter as "the celestial joy of the gods after their daily banquet." Darwin said of laughter, "It seems primarily to be the expression of mere joy or happiness. We clearly see this in children at play who are almost incessantly laughing."  More recently, Freud thought it's a "cathartic" response to emotional tension.  Readers Digest had a column titled: Laughter Is the Best Medicine.

     I don't think any of those definitions apply to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, especially Laughter is the Best Medicine.  It's the opposite, a sign civility has been lost.  Dr. Blasey Fold told us the laughter of her attackers left an indelible mark that remained in her "hippocampus" all her life--a lesson for the nation in neurology.  Why would someone laugh in front of their victim in such a circumstance?  What comes to my mind is the sense of power and superiority they received--an insidious, invasive form of laughter, not with someone, but "at" them.  It establishes there was also the quest for power and entitlement. 

     What would have happened if Kavanaugh said, "it was a stupid adolescent act on my part that I'll forever regret and ask Dr. Ford to forgive me knowing full well it means I may never now serve on the Supreme Court."  That is to say if he had taken responsibility like an adult, rather than staying forever a boy.  It wasn't even a possibility, his only response was denial.  The culture we live in allows no other.  It would have changed history, far beyond anything he'll ever do on the Supreme Court or anyplace else.

     It isn't only him who never grew up, it's a whole lot of other people as well, giving him cover.  I saw clips from psychologists talking about the need for men to cry, so at least he wouldn't get nailed for that one, but not about taking full responsibility for their acts.  Innocent until proven guilty, or until you can't get away with it.  Where are the grown-ups?

     Just as telling was Kavanaugh's "presentation."  He was clearly not someone used to having his authority questioned.  A judge, a man who has presided in a courtroom for hundreds of hours determining the veracity of testimony, became a feckless, angry, pitiful victim who's only defense was being wrongly accused.  Reports surfaced that Trump himself coached him to be more arrogant and belligerent, like himself. His manifesto, confirmed again and again: make up a lie, stick with it, and blame everybody else. It appears Kavanaugh took that advice.  He was hardly the slippery eel in his earlier Fox News interview. 

     Rather than look at his own experience, and his own temperament, he took his cue from his boss and tried to emulate him, mistakenly seeing it as the winning formula. He was less credible than a college professor who never appeared in court before, let alone in front of the US Senate and the nation.  Isn't that also what adolescents do?  Put on a mask that somebody else provides, unable to find the maturity in themselves to admit the truth and be themselves, they take it from others and pretend to be men. 

     If the same neurological rules apply to him as to her, he's going to suffer just as much from his day in the Senate as she has through the years.  Who's laughing now?  Clarence Thomas also chose the course of denial.  Perhaps it's no accident he became one of the least distinguished judges in the history of the court.  If only you know your own disgrace, it's hard to make yourself known to those around you. Unlike Dr. Blasey Ford, they'll probably die with their secret.

    Goons and delinquents attract other goons and delinquents, as every high school student knows.  It's pretty much the signature of the Trump administration.  A club for goons who's only concern is their own status and power.  Brett Kavanaugh's moral compass is forever challenged by his own ambition.  That's reason enough to disqualify him.     


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Comment by Rodney Roe on October 1, 2018 at 1:53pm

Odd,  that “you ate one,too” defense. It is an informal fallacy, but only elites know that. 

Comment by Ben Sen on October 1, 2018 at 2:02pm

Moki Icom:  Though my father started a fraternity, in those days it was more a pathway to meeting the right people and a sign of status.  By the time I went to school, during Vietnam, it was something the dummies did to get drunk and party.  We were the first to smoke pot, however, played music, and read each other poetry.  We had our hands full trying to stop a war.


Comment by Ben Sen on October 1, 2018 at 2:07pm

Rodney:  It isn't my idea, but there's no doubt we're in the age of ideology.  It like a cheap form of secular religion.  You're either left or right and that is supposed to determine who's side your on and whether you're friend or foe.  I think of it as just plain childish--but don't tell them that--if they can actually understand it--they have a fit.

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 1, 2018 at 7:08pm

The challenge of communicating across large divides is particularly interesting to me and others here.

There have been a number of TED talks on the subject.

In this series I particularly liked the presentations by Robb Willer and Celeste Headlee.  There is nothing really groundbreaking about this information.  It's just a combination of Communications 101 and Psych 101.  I think reading some of the work of Jonathan Heidt is very helpful, as well.


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